Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-12-04 11:35 [p.618]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for St. John's East.
The member for Yorkton—Melville is far too good an MP to honestly believe much of the speech that he just gave in the House of Commons today.
As we speak, history is unfolding in front of Rideau Hall. I understand the podium has been set up and the microphones are being set up so the Prime Minister can make an announcement, and he will likely announce that the Governor General has allowed him to prorogue this House of Commons.
I think this is a terrible shame and it would set a terrible precedent. It is one of the fundamental tenets of our parliamentary democracy that the executive must be accountable to Parliament, to the legislative wing of our democracy. In this sense, the legislative wing, Parliament, the House of Commons, has decreed that it has lost confidence in the government and all it wishes is the opportunity to express that non-confidence in a majority vote scheduled for Monday. The Prime Minister has run behind the apron strings of the sovereign to avoid that necessary vote that should take place on Monday.
It is worrisome if the sovereign, in fact, overrides the will of Parliament. Kings have been beheaded for such things. If that is the case, if this is unfolding as we predict, then we are in a bigger crisis than just the death rattle of a bad government. We are in fact watching just that, the death rattle of a bad government, for the simple reason that the Prime Minister blew it.
The Prime Minister had every opportunity, when he won a minority in the last federal election, to reach across the aisle and cobble together a working coalition, so to speak, of all Parliament because of the economic crisis that we are in. In fact, the evidence of this is how simple and straightforward it was for the three opposition parties to come to agreement in a very short period of time that we needed to work together. That tells me that the Prime Minister could have done the same thing if he had reached across the aisle in a spirit of collaboration and co-operation that one might expect in a period of crisis. If we were all paddling our canoe in the same direction, we could navigate these turbulent waters without this unrest that is unfolding as we speak.
However, no, instead of that simple gesture of goodwill, he reached across the aisle all right but he reached across the aisle to slit his enemies' throats in an aggressive act, a bombastic act and an unnecessarily antagonistic act. Instead of extending his hand in friendship, he slapped the opposition parties in the face. He tried to unleash a veritable wish list of neo-conservative diatribe. He used every little irritant he could think of.
The Conservatives decided to exploit the financial emergency, the crisis we are in, and get rid of the right to strike for public sector unions. What does that have to do with stimulating the economy? They also decided to get rid of all the nuisance pay equity claims. What does that have to do with stimulating the economy? They decided to pull the rug out from under our political oppositions' ability to participate in the next federal election. What does that have to do with stimulating the economy?
That is what has sorely offended Canadians and certainly all three of the opposition parties to the point where they said that enough was enough, that it would not tolerate the bullying any longer. We wanted to get down to business.
The second thing I will speak to is another historic event that is unfolding across the nation as we speak. At this very moment, crowds are gathering in 10 cities across the country, one of which is right outside the House of Commons. A large pro-coalition rally will be taking place there, as it will be in Winnipeg where they expect a crowd of over 1,000 people. Right across the country, Canadians will be expressing their support for the coalition government that is cobbled together between the NDP and the Liberal Party.
I want to take a bit of my time to condemn many of the speakers for the Conservative Party, in the context of this debate, who have been gnashing their teeth and rending their garments in a reckless and irresponsible way, fear-mongering to the point that they are actually hate-mongering toward the people of Quebec.
I have heard people vilify the people of Quebec, with spittle spraying from their mouths, just vehemently condemn the good people of Quebec. They are burning bridges. They are engaged in a scorched earth policy they will live to regret. How are they ever going to go to the people of Quebec in a subsequent federal election to ask for their confidence with the things that those people have been saying in the context of this debate? They are setting the cause of national unity back by decades with their irresponsible, reckless and, I suggest, hateful debate. It really has been an awful thing to witness.
What happened with the coalition that is developing, this exciting prospect, is giving effect to the will of the people as expressed in the last federal election.
A true democrat would accept that majority rules. The majority of Canadians as represented by their elected members of Parliament oppose the Conservative government and oppose the direction in which the government is trying to take us. We are a multi-party democracy. Maybe the era of majority governments in Canada has come to an end. Maybe the government will have to water down its wine somewhat and work with the other parties if it wants to govern this country.
Maybe that is the new political reality the Prime Minister was too slow to realize. Perhaps it was not the Prime Minister, but Tom Flanagan who was too slow to realize. Surely this strategy has Tom Flanagan's stamp all over it. The idea is one of exploiting the economic crisis to smash one's enemies; never let an economic crisis go by without exploiting its virtues. Members should read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine. I think it would be a revelation to my colleagues opposite.
In many ways the type of co-operative collaboration between the parties is exactly what Canadians would expect their representatives to do if we are going into a period of economic turbulence. They want Canadian representatives and politicians working together with a common agenda.
Let me say how easy it would have been for the Prime Minister to do the same thing. He could have been a real statesman. He could have stood up and brought the leaders of all the opposition parties into a room and said, “Look, we are going into a really rough period, and just as in a time of war, we are going to have to work together. Let us set aside the things that divide us and agree upon the things that unite us, and move together as a nation until we get past this turbulence”. At least postpone those things that divide us.
That took real leadership from my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois. They admit they are still dedicated to a sovereign nation of Quebec. That is what they care about. That is their right. They were democratically elected to be here. However, they said that they would set that aside for a period of 18 months and maybe longer while we all worked together to get through this turbulence. That is leadership. That should be recognized and acknowledged. I think the Canadian public sees that.
The rest of us have left our political baggage at the door of this place. The Liberals and the NDP have been squabbling and scrapping for as long as anybody can remember, but we have agreed to set aside those things that divide us and work on those common things that we all care about.
One of the nice things about Canada, as all would agree, is that the political spectrum is really quite narrow. We have more things in common than divide us. It is a longer list of things that we jointly care about than what we fight over.
We have simply identified a half dozen important things that we all agree need to be done and we set about creating a coalition that would implement them.
The Prime Minister could have done the exact same thing if he had chosen to be a statesman. Instead, I believe he has created a problem from which he will not recover. Even if the Governor General agrees to prorogue Parliament, this problem will not go away, because no amount of money in the next six weeks is going to buy back the credibility that the Conservatives lost by choosing to be aggressive and bombastic instead of statesman-like.
We had a valuable insight into the true nature of those guys. The veneer was scraped off. We got to see who they really are. They kept up this illusion for a couple of years that they can set aside their radical fringe, but the radical fringe seeped through at the first opportunity and dominated. I believe it skewed the reason of an otherwise decent man, the Prime Minister of Canada. I think he was misled, he got bad advice, and he blew it. We see the consequences today.
He has lost the confidence of Parliament and a new government will take over that represents the majority of Canadians. Its agenda will be one that is necessary and well crafted and it will be implemented quickly.
I am sure my colleague from St. John's East will be able to expand on some of the agenda.
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-12-04 11:48 [p.619]
Mr. Speaker, it is one of the basic fundamental tenets of a parliamentary democracy that the executive must be accountable to the legislature.
All we are asking for is the opportunity to vote on the financial update or the FU as it has come to be known across the country. We want to vote on the FU on Monday and I believe the Conservatives will lose that vote. It is a vote of confidence and we will be able to express our non-confidence in the government.
What could be more fundamental than the executive being accountable to the legislature? There have been rebellions fought on that issue.
I would also be critical if the Governor General did prorogue Parliament as per the request of the Prime Minister. It is a very worrisome situation that the sovereign of this country would be overriding the will of the legislative arm of our democracy. There have been kings beheaded for such a thing and it is extremely worrisome.
My colleague, the government House leader, is far too good a member of Parliament to ignore these basic fundamental tenets of our parliamentary democracy even if it does have adverse consequences for the party that he represents.
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-12-04 11:51 [p.620]
Mr. Speaker, what is clear, given the outpouring of support we are seeing from across the country, is that in the absence of any leadership whatsoever on those important issues raised by my colleague, the general public is welcoming an action plan that is clear, concise and well crafted and which can be implemented in short order by a new coalition government.
There is a wave of optimism sweeping the nation as we speak. Once again, there is hope in the land.
View Judy Wasylycia-Leis Profile
NDP (MB)
View Judy Wasylycia-Leis Profile
2008-12-03 14:11 [p.567]
Mr. Speaker, today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a celebration of the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and a recommitment to inclusion through its theme, “Dignity and Justice for All”.
Celebrations are taking place across Canada hosted by Independent Living Canada, along with People First, all of this following on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Association for Community Living. But our celebrations are marred by the Conservative Party's foot dragging on ratification of the UN convention and the Conservatives' failure to address disproportionate poverty and unemployment among Canadians with disabilities.
The Conservative government has no plan and no will to address the economic crisis that puts the most vulnerable in our society at even greater risk. How can we have confidence in a government that denies those living with disabilities the means to help themselves in a time of economic crisis, condemning them to further impoverishment and hardship?
Now is the time to end exclusion, and stand up for the rights of all people.
View Shelly Glover Profile
CPC (MB)
View Shelly Glover Profile
2008-12-03 14:12 [p.567]
Mr. Speaker, this coalition is having disastrous consequences for Canada. The coalition is dividing Canadians as we stand on the brink of an economic crisis. We do not need a constitutional crisis on top of everything else. When Jacques Parizeau is happy, I start to worry. It is not surprising that the Liberals are again adding fuel to the sovereigntist fire, but it is completely absurd that the NDP is in on this strategy.
Why is the opposition trying to divide the country when our government corrected the fiscal imbalance and recognized the Quebec nation, thereby showing Quebeckers that they are an integral part of Canada? Once again, francophones in Canada will find themselves isolated, and once again, they can thank the Liberals.
View Anita Neville Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives attacked women's equality rights in the economic update because they thought they could get away with it. Their plan to bargain away equal pay for work of equal value was not mentioned during the election, nor was it mentioned in the throne speech.
Given this poor track record, how can Canadian women have any confidence that their equal rights will not be attacked again by the Conservatives?
View Vic Toews Profile
CPC (MB)
View Vic Toews Profile
2008-12-03 14:58 [p.574]
Mr. Speaker, what we find unacceptable is that women would have to wait for 15 years to resolve complaints. In fact, the legislation we are bringing forward is something the David Peterson government brought in.
Mr. Speaker, do you know who supported that? The NDP supported that. Who was it led by? It was led by the member for Toronto Centre. It was he who brought in that legislation in Ontario.
View Anita Neville Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, the minister is spinning, and Canadian women deserve better. Instead of introducing measures to help Canadian women who have lost their jobs, the Conservatives choose to attack women's rights.
When women are already at a disadvantage in the workplace, the Conservatives choose to attack instead of protect. Now the minister's main concern is the protection of his own job.
Why do Conservatives care more about saving their own jobs than the jobs of Canadian women?
View Vic Toews Profile
CPC (MB)
View Vic Toews Profile
2008-12-03 14:59 [p.574]
Mr. Speaker, for 13 years the Liberals did nothing with respect to pay equity for women. Women waited and waited and received no satisfaction from the Liberals because of the mechanism that they had in place.
What we are doing is putting in place a proactive mechanism that will address the issues of women in a timely fashion. It is something the Ontario government brought in under the member for Toronto Centre, something the Quebec government brought in, and something my own home province of Manitoba brought in back in 1986.
View Judy Wasylycia-Leis Profile
NDP (MB)
View Judy Wasylycia-Leis Profile
2008-12-03 15:09 [p.575]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I know you have not ruled or felt that it was appropriate to call the member for Peterborough to order for his language, such as “traitor” or “infiltration”, however, I would like to appeal to you, as the Speaker of the House, that my rights as a member have been violated by the member for Peterborough, who continues to shout so loud and with such vulgarity, it is impossible to hear anything at this end of the House. I would like you to bring some order to the House and have him at least show some courtesy and decency in this place.
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-12-03 15:41 [p.579]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-248, An Act respecting Louis Riel.
He said: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of Manitoba and on behalf of the Métis nation, it gives me great pride to introduce this bill, the purpose of which is to reverse the conviction for high treason of Louis Riel and to formally recognize him and commemorate his role in the advancement of Canadian Confederation and the rights of interest to the Métis people and the people of western Canada.
This bill goes on to recognize that Louis Riel was in fact the founder of the province of Manitoba and that he was elected three times to the House of Commons, but as a result of political pressure was never allowed to take a seat. This bill points out that as a result of the events of the Northwest Territories rebellion in 1885, Louis Riel was wrongfully tried and convicted, and on November 16, 1885, was executed for high treason by the Government of Canada.
This bill does not seek a pardon for Louis Riel. It seeks to exonerate him, and for the House of Commons to recognize that he was executed wrongfully and that he should never have been convicted. We are not seeking a pardon. We are seeking full exoneration.
In introducing this bill, I want to recognize and pay tribute to Yvon Dumont, the former lieutenant governor of the province of Manitoba and president of the Manitoba Métis Federation; Clem Chartier, the president of the Métis National Council; and David Chartrand, the current president of the Manitoba Métis Federation.
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-12-03 15:43 [p.579]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-249, An Act to ensure that appropriate health care services are provided to First Nations children in a timely manner.
He said: Mr. Speaker, this bill is based on the premise that a child is a child is a child, no matter where the child lives in Canada and no matter whether the child is First Nation, Inuit, Métis or European in background.
This bill is based on Jordan’s principle. Jordan was a first nations child who was unable to move from a hospital to a family home as a result of a disagreement between departments of the Government of Canada as to which department should bear responsibility for the costs of providing health care services. As a result of this disagreement between government bureaucracies, Jordan died in hospital without ever having been able to live in any family home.
Jordan’s principle finds great support among first nations, and it is simply a matter of justice that we should not have two tiers in medicine based on whether one is of Inuit, Métis, First Nation or European background or descent.
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-12-03 15:44 [p.580]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-250, An Act to prohibit the export of water by interbasin transfers.
He said: Mr. Speaker, there are people who say that water is the oil of the 21st century, but I put it to you, and I believe the House of Commons agrees, in fact by consensus to a motion put forward in 2004, that the interbasin transfer of water is environmental folly. It is an affront to nature. It is an affront to the natural order of things. Yet time and time again we see the irresistible temptation in trade agreements with our trading partners that other people want Canada's water.
We in the House of Commons need to recognize that water, in fact, is Canada's most valuable natural resource and that Canada must be committed to preserving water resources within its boundaries, and therefore, that Canada will continue to promote adherence to the Boundary Waters Treaty by Canadian and the United States when managing boundary water matters.
This short bill would protect at least in principle the notion that the interbasin transfer of water should be opposed even when put forward by Conservative governments, as they often do.
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-12-03 15:46 [p.580]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-251, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (trans fatty acids).
He said: Mr. Speaker, in November 2004 the House of Commons passed a motion put forward by the NDP to ban the use of trans fatty acids for human consumption. The motion was not to reduce the use of trans fatty acids. It was not to regulate the use of trans fatty acids. It was to ban the use of trans fatty acids.
Then the blue ribbon task force made up of representatives from food manufacturers, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the restaurant association and Health Canada concurred with the will of Parliament and after 18 months agreed that trans fats should in fact be banned.
One gram of trans fat increases the risk of heart disease by 10%. Canadians eat over 10 grams a day. Some people eat a lot more than 10 grams per day. We need to ban trans fatty acids before they poison another generation of children and cabinet ministers.
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